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Hot Off The Press! The Latest Television News and Info - Page 489  

post #14641 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by pwrmetal View Post

Are these authors on crack?! In what universe is SG1 the longest running sci-fi series in TV history? Someone tell them that Doctor Who ran for 26 seasons....

Maybe in American TV history?

Let's not expect these writers to always check reference materials when handed a press release!

As you know, in the recent past I've posted a number of articles which attest to the Doctor Who longevity.
post #14642 of 25503
Thread Starter 
The NCTA and the cable companies have been nothing less than shameful in their total disregard for the regulation.
All so they can soak their customers another few dollars a month.
It is reminiscent of Bell's reaction a generation ago to judicial orders that they sell -- not lease -- their phones.
And all of this while the cable companies bleat about how they have the subscriber's best interest in mind -- like the TWC/NFL Network foolishness.
post #14643 of 25503
Originally Posted by pwrmetal View Post

Are these authors on crack?! In what universe is SG1 the longest running sci-fi series in TV history? Someone tell them that Doctor Who ran for 26 seasons....

Doctor Who didn't run for 26 consecutive seasons.
post #14644 of 25503
The big picture

Aug. 20, 2006. 07:50 AM

A ghost appears on the battlefields of competing technologies. It's the ghost of Beta, the home video technology that succumbed in the 1980s to rival VHS. It haunts garage sales where battered Beta versions of movies like Stripes and Police Academy bake in the sun alongside Peter Frampton 8-track tapes.

The ghost might have some company soon. Another home entertainment technology death duel is under way as two different TV technologies — liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma — vie for dominance of the big-screen, flat-panel television market.

Until recently the technologies weren't really in direct competition, as plasma was more suited to bigger screens while LCD had the edge on smaller ones. Giant LCD sets were available, but they relied on bulky image-projecting equipment behind their screens, and thereby lacked the fashionable thinness of plasma flat-screen units.

But LCD technology is evolving as manufacturers turn out increasingly larger flat-panel units. LCD manufacturers can now make a flat-screen TV as big as 46 inches without compromising picture quality. And they say even bigger sets are in development.

LCD is now in plasma country, and this means war — a war some say plasma can't hope to win.

Electronics giant Sony stopped manufacturing plasma TVs 18 months ago. John Challinor, Sony Canada's general manager of corporate communications, calls plasma a "high maintenance" product.

"The (sets) offer a very good picture, a very bright picture," he says. "But they have serious problems as relates to burn-in." (Burn-in is where an unchanging image stays on your TV screen so long that it gets burned onto its surface.)

Challinor says the static on-screen layout of round-the-clock news channels, where the screen is divided into boxes, is especially problematic. The black bars on a widescreen movie can also burn into a screen.

Challinor describes some other problems:

Plasma sets are very susceptible to temperature fluctuation in a room;

You've got to have it in a location with a consistent temperature range.

They don't like direct sunlight — it distorts your ability to see the screen-face clearly.

The sets don't like to be moved from room to room, because of the sensitivity of the gases inside the screen.

Another factor in Sony's abandonment of plasma was its shorter lifespan. "Plasma has about a 40,000 hour life. LCD has about a 60,000 hour life."

Meanwhile, Challinor says, LCD manufacturers are rapidly correcting the product's deficiencies in the large, flat-panel format.

"LCD technology has advanced significantly in the last 18 months. There were issues with ghosting. LCD couldn't handle fast movement — in a hockey game you'd lose the puck. That's no longer the case."

Challinor is confident plasma's dominance of the flat-panel large-sized TV market is almost over. "LCD does not (currently) have flat panel in the 60- or 70-inch range, but a year from now you'll see that in the marketplace."

The outlook for plasma televisions isn't any sunnier in the office of John Birks, a home and consumer technology specialist at market research firm NPD Group. He points to big changes in Canadian television sales over the past 12 months.

Of overall television sales, 13 per cent were big-screen rear-projection units. These are too chubby to hang like a picture frame on your wall, Birks says, but they do have the giant screen.

Plasma sets, which achieve that elegant, slim look on huge screens, accounted for 6 per cent of unit sales. LCD sets of all sizes accounted for 18 per cent. (The rest of the sales involved other types of televisions, like the old-fashioned cathode-ray tube models and portable transistorized units.)

Birks says TV sales in general are up 9 per cent in the past 12 months, with 2.5 million sets sold.

"If you look at it from the standpoint of LCD and plasma, the percentage increase in plasma was 283 per cent. The percentage increase in LCD was 330 per cent."

Birks, however, warns that such comparisons must be put in context. Yes, LCD sales increased more than plasma sales. But LCD sets are currently smaller than plasma. Plasma competes in the large-size market, where sales are fewer.

Nonetheless, Birks says plasma is in trouble.

"Probably the best analogy people are using is Beta and VHS from the early VCR days," adds Birks. "Some people think that plasma is the Beta. The reason plasma sets exist is they were the only ones with big, flat screens, until recently. LCD (increasingly) offers big screen TVs with a nice format."

Birks says LCDs are a bit expensive right now, so there will be a transition period.

"There's a future for plasma, but I don't think it's strong," he says. If plasma endures, Birks sees it as a lower-cost alternative to LCD in the big screen sizes. "But you can also see prices on LCD dropping. So it's going to be competitive with plasma."

Over in the plasma camp, they're saying it's way too early to start writing any obituaries. Unlike Sony, electronics giants Samsung and Panasonic are still making plasma televisions.

Barry Murray, Panasonic Canada's director of marketing for audio and video products, says plasma has been getting a bad rap.

"There is a group of manufacturers who have, for various business reasons, decided to focus on one technology. (But) rather than talk about that technology's attributes, they talk about other technologies in a negative fashion."

Panasonic intends to continue making both plasma and LCD sets. "We're planning to launch the 103-inch plasma, the world's biggest," Murray says.

And some of the criticisms of plasma technology — like screen-burn — are unfair generalizations, he says.

"You get what you pay for," he says. "The issue with plasma or even LCD is when you buy the tier-three brands, there's always more risk to reliability than when you buy a major brand.

"Panasonic makes both LCD and plasma," he adds. "There's no way we'd risk our brand's reputation on a technology that has inherent flaws like that."

Another record Murray wants to set straight: "There's a perception that plasma uses twice as much power (as LCD). Per screen size inch, they're about the same."

But as the competition heats up, the question of which technology uses more energy has become more and more contentious. U.S.-based environment group Natural Resources Defense Council recently published a study on the energy consumption of televisions. Project manager Noah Horowitz says plasma sets are getting a reputation for being "power hogs," but the criticism isn't quite fair.

"I've been slammed by the plasma manufacturers for singling them out," says Horowitz. "It's true that the televisions that consume the most energy today are plasma, but that's because they're making the biggest sets (with plasma technology)."

In fact, he says, Panasonic this year introduced new plasma models that use 25 per cent less energy than last year's sets.

"We don't want to single out plasmas. It's the big-screen, high-definition TVs (that consume a lot of energy). People are going to bigger screens ... we're seeing in excess of 50 inches. TVs used to be analog, but now we're getting into digital. High definition (digital pictures) require the most information, more pixels, and that's taking more energy."

Horowitz hopes to raise awareness — and maybe some eyebrows — over how much energy these new TV technologies consume.

"I guess the biggest surprise to many consumers — the fact they're not aware of — is if someone were to buy a new large-screen, high definition (set), that unit would use more energy than a new refrigerator over a year.

"On top of that, people are subscribing to cable and satellite TV. Those set-top boxes can use up to half of a refrigerator's power per year."

As plasma and LCD compete, Horowitz says conservation groups in Canada and the U.S. are hoping to influence the battle, spurring the two technologies to outdo each other in energy efficiency.

"If we could cut the energy use of a TV when it's on by 25 per cent, we could cut the electric bill in the U.S. by a billion dollars a year, and prevent 7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year — (carbon dioxide being) a key contributor to global warming," Horowitz says. "We really want manufacturers to get ahead of the curve here."

In Canada, the federal government's Office of Energy Efficiency has a similar goal. Hantz Prosper, the department's acting senior standards engineer, says home entertainment energy consumption is a growing concern as screens get bigger and accessories like DVD and video game players are added.

"What's lacking now is labelling to inform the consumer about the electricity consumption of a new TV," he says. "Sometimes it's not clear if they should go with a large or a small one, so the label is something that could help."

Prosper's office is working on a Canadian standard to make fair comparisons between the energy consumption of televisions. None exists yet, and he says this can account for some of the conflicting claims about which technology — plasma or LCD — is more energy efficient.

In any comparison, he says the sets have to be the same size. But the content on the screen can drastically complicate a comparison. For example, soap operas tend to be dark and consume less energy. Sports events are bright and full of movement, and therefore consume more energy.

The process could take over a year, but once the standards have been set, both Horowitz and Prosper say they want to see energy efficiency information on future television packaging.

Even as the various players take their positions in the plasma vs. LCD battle, the stakes have never been higher. The large-screen home-theatre craze is bigger than ever, says Lori DeCou, director of communications at electronics retailer Future Shop. With a glut of major sporting events in recent months, more and more consumers are buying giant screens.

"The way the television (selling) cycle works is the (December) holidays are the kick-off for us. Superbowl sparks additional sales."

And this year the Olympics, World Cup and NHL playoffs created a stampede of big-screen buyers.

DeCou says the big-screen market can only get bigger. Prices are dropping as low as $2,000 for a big-screen TV, she says, compared to about $8,000 six years ago.

"With real estate, for example, buying a house, the more people want it, the higher the price goes.

"The thing about home technology as a whole, the greater the adoption of it, the more people who want it, the more the price goes down," she adds.

"You can buy a laptop for $600. That used to be unheard of."

post #14645 of 25503
Originally Posted by RussTC3 View Post

Doctor Who didn't run for 26 consecutive seasons.

Yes it did.

Dr. Who is the longest running TV show on the BBC. 1963 - 1989.

26 Seasons in a row!

Season 01 broadcast 23 Nov 1963 - 12 Sep 1964
Season 02 broadcast 31 Oct 1964 - 24 Jul 1965
Season 03 broadcast 11 Sep 1965 - 16 Jul 1966
Season 04 broadcast 10 Sep 1966 - 01 Jul 1967
Season 05 broadcast 02 Sep 1967 - 01 Jun 1968
Season 06 broadcast 10 Aug 1968 - 21 Jun 1969
Season 07 broadcast 03 Jan 1970 - 20 Jun 1970
Season 08 broadcast 02 Jan 1971 - 19 Jun 1971
Season 09 broadcast 01 Jan 1972 - 24 Jun 1972
Season 10 broadcast 30 Dec 1972 - 23 Jun 1973
Season 11 broadcast 15 Dec 1973 - 08 Jun 1974
Season 12 broadcast 28 Dec 1974 - 10 May 1975
Season 13 broadcast 30 Aug 1975 - 06 Mar 1976
Season 14 broadcast 04 Sep 1976 - 02 Apr 1977
Season 15 broadcast 03 Sep 1977 - 11 Mar 1978
Season 16 broadcast 02 Sep 1978 - 24 Feb 1979
Season 17 broadcast 01 Sep 1979 - 12 Jan 1980
Season 18 broadcast 30 Aug 1980 - 21 Mar 1981
Season 19 broadcast 04 Jan 1982 - 31 Mar 1983
Season 20 broadcast 03 Jan 1983 - 16 Mar 1983
xmas special broadcast 25 Nov 1983
Season 21 broadcast 05 Jan 1984 - 30 Mar 1984
Season 22 broadcast 05 Jan 1985 - 30 Mar 1985
Season 23 broadcast 06 Sep 1986 - 06 Dec 1986
Season 24 broadcast 07 Sep 1987 - 07 Dec 1987
Season 25 broadcast 05 Oct 1988 - 04 Jan 1989
Season 26 broadcast 06 Sep 1989 - 06 Dec 1989

Dr. Who USA Movie

broadcast 27 May 1996

New Dr. Who

Series 01 broadcast 26 March 2005 - 18 June 2005
Series 02 broadcast April 2006 - July 2006
Series 03 broadcast April 2007 - July 2007
post #14646 of 25503
Press Release

Cable Operators Leverage Third HD-PRIME(TM) Satellite to Meet Growing Demand for High Definition TV

SES AMERICOM Taps Patriot Antenna Systems to Produce and Deliver Triple-Feed Dishes for the Simultaneous Reception of 3 Satellites on One Antenna

PRINCETON, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 21, 2006--With consumer demand for high definition television accelerating, SES AMERICOM, an SES GLOBAL company (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg stock exchangesESG), today announced that Comcast, Bresnan Communications, Brighthouse Networks, and Metrocast are among the first group of domestic U.S. cable MSOs to participate in an innovative triple-feed antenna program, offering access to the next generation of HD channels.

By installing a free triple-feed antenna, produced and delivered by Patriot Antenna Systems, MSOs will be able to receive quality programming over three SES AMERICOM satellites. Cable operators, many who already get programming from SES AMERICOM's Americom2Cable(TM) neighborhood (AMC-1 at 101 degrees WL and AMC-4 at 103 degrees WL), will be well positioned to access the next wave of HD content carried on AMC-18 (at 105 degrees WL). The newest addition to SES AMERICOM's HD-PRIME(TM) neighborhood is scheduled to be operational early next year following a planned launch this fall.

"Our first two HD-PRIME(TM) satellites are nearing capacity, as leading programmers rely heavily on AMC-10 and AMC-11 to launch cable subscriber favorites and brand new programming in HD," said Bryan McGuirk, president of media solutions for SES AMERICOM. "Our triple-feed antenna program ensures that HD programmers have a place, in AMC-18, to cost-effectively grow their HD programming distribution for years to come."

Using advanced production methods, Patriot Antenna Systems manufactures an array of satellite reflectors from stretch formed aluminum, a process that generates highly accurate antenna surfaces, designed for high performance programming reception for the cable headend and Broadcast markets. Depending on the geographic location of their U.S. headends, operators will be equipped with a 3.8 meter, 4.5 meter or 5.0 meter PATRIOT antenna fitted with the triple-feed receiving assembly.

"Our quality controlled and timely production processes enables Patriot to meet the high performance and minimized interference demands of cable operators across the U.S. as they prepare their cable headends for additional television programming," said Steve Pokornicki, Director of Sales and Marketing for Patriot Antenna Systems. "We look forward to working with SES AMERICOM, as it enables cable operators of all sizes to readily meet the growing subscriber demand for HDTV programming."

post #14647 of 25503
Originally Posted by scanpa View Post

Yes it did.

Thanks for saving me the trouble of arguing this!
post #14648 of 25503
Thread Starter 
TV Notebook
FX Tests the Limits
Its envelope-pushing shows can revolt even as they rivet. Will viewers turn it off?
By Maria Elena Fernandez Los Angeles Times Staff Writer August 22, 2006

FX's signature dramas have never been easy to watch.

Whether it's the execution-style murder of a little girl on "The Shield," the surgical removal of an obese woman from a couch on "Nip/Tuck" or the sight of a burned firefighter who has lost his legs on "Rescue Me," FX has distinguished itself in the television landscape by depicting contemporary life in its extremes.

This summer, as other basic cable channels have boasted of their winners such as USA's "Psych," TNT's "The Closer" and Bravo's "Project Runway" FX has managed to reign as the most talked-about network. But not necessarily for the reasons it might relish, since TV critics and fans have been asking: Has FX gone too far in its quest to skirt the edge? And in doing so, did network executives and show producers stoke the fires, giving the impression they could not handle the heat?

It is "Rescue Me," the post-Sept. 11 firefighter drama, that has provided the polarizing fodder since its third season began in May. Co-created by Denis Leary, who stars in it and was nominated for an Emmy this year, and Peter Tolan, "Rescue Me" has won praise for its ability to teeter between tragedy and comedy, killing Tommy Gavin's (Leary) young son or presenting firehouse antics that include what-if talk about sex with amputees.

This season, the show pushed its boundaries further with three episodes that involved rape.

First, Tommy had a fight with his estranged wife, Janet, who was living with his brother, and forced her to have sex with him. She initially hit him, but by the end was moaning and smiling, leaving the audience to wonder if she enjoyed it. Two episodes later, Janet answered that question, showing up at Tommy's in lingerie and forcing herself on him. And in the following episode, Sheila, who has an off-and-on sexual relationship with Tommy, her deceased husband's cousin, drugged him with Rohypnol and Viagra and raped him.

A vocal contingent of critics and audience members were so offended they vowed they would never watch again. " 'Rescue Me' not only jumped the shark but then went back and raped it," posted one viewer on a message board. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune wrote: "I will be switching the channel. 'Rescue Me' has gone too far for me."

A few weeks later, T-Mobile's chief executive blasted the network's programming, dropped its sponsorship of "Rescue Me" and the network's only comedy, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and said he would review the rest of the network's slate. (Chrysler and Toyota, lobbied by the Parents Television Council and the American Family Assn. to abandon the network, are standing behind it.)

"Rescue Me," like FX's other original programs, airs at 10 p.m. with plenty of advisories, a point that is not lost on Leary, who emphasizes that he turned to basic cable because he did not want to obey broadcast network standards anymore.

"People talk about us, but my favorite show on TV is 'The Sopranos,' " said Leary. "And that show is about a guy who kills people during the day and goes home and talks to his kids about going to college. Meanwhile, my guys put out fires and save people and then they go home and whatever happens, happens."

Some TV critics and fans were astounded but riveted: "The final scene in this episode ... was one of the most complicated and heightened scenes I've ever seen on TV, and I could analyze it all day," wrote Matthew Gilbert of the Boston Globe, after Tommy and Janet's first sexual encounter. And for all the hubbub, the show's performance has not suffered: "Rescue Me" is averaging 2.9 million viewers, a 7% increase over last year.

John Landgraf, the president and general manager of FX, is no stranger to complaints about his shows. Over lunch at Mr. Chow in Beverly Hills recently, Landgraf, who joined FX in 2004 but became its head in spring 2005, called this season of "Rescue Me" its "best and most brilliant." He approved the story lines, he said, knowing that he would have to hold his breath and wait for the public's response.

"For me the question is: What is the scene within the context of the entire scope of what they're hoping to achieve this year?" he said. "And I thought it was valid in that context, and I thought the risk behind it was reasonable. So it was like strap on your bulletproof vest. We're here to foster great television and take risks in support of creative freedom, and I just make no apologies for that."

From the creative end of "Rescue Me," Tolan attempted to clarify their intentions in the first controversial scene by posting on the website Television Without Pity. But he only made matters worse by becoming combative with fans who disagreed with him.

And Leary outraged some critics when he explained in TV Guide his character's violent taking of his estranged wife: "I'm sorry, I've got female friends who have been through it and don't think it's an unhealthy situation. And anybody that says different has either not been through it or is just politically correct and should probably be switching the channel."

Then a remark that Landgraf made to the press, that he tested the Tommy-Janet episode with his female executives, rubbed some as an odd double-standard. "That doesn't mean I didn't get opinions from men," he said. "From my standpoint, I'm not a woman, so I wanted to hear from women, and they really liked the episode."

Landgraf and Leary said the bumpy ride is worth it. Leary feels that next season the "payoff I think is worth the trip about how sick that relationship is, and how bad it is for them and the rest of the world."

Since it began developing original programming four years ago, FX has earned a reputation in Hollywood for allowing writers and actors to be true to their artistic integrity, even when scenes or episodes had the potential for driving away sponsors or repelling the public. That mission, established by Peter Liguori, who left FX in March 2005 to run Fox, lured Landgraf to leave Jersey Television.

"Nip/Tuck" creator Ryan Murphy said he was inspired by "The Shield's" raw authenticity to pitch his soap to FX. "They're very responsible and they always say, 'Let's talk about this choice,' and if you can defend it from a place of character, great. If not, then it's a problem."

Sure, Murphy has had his share of arguments and discussions with FX's top brass. But the most intense of those debates occurred last year during the production of the Season 3 finale, which included a disturbing, over-the-top resolution to the saga of the masked psycho the Carver. The December episode, as written and directed by Murphy, contained a 15-minute cross-cutting torture sequence in which the menacing Carver imprisoned the show's main figures, Sean (Dylan Walsh) and Christian (Julian McMahon), and cut off Sean's finger. In the juxtaposed scene, a white supremacist forced Sean's son, Matt, to slice off his transgendered friend's penis with a box cutter. Landgraf balked and asked Murphy to at least shorten it. The version that aired was nine minutes long.

"I felt it was too harrowing, I felt it would really hurt the show and I felt it was over the line," Landgraf said. "But once I got that 40% taken out and I got into the realm of where my taste differs from Ryan's taste, I let him have his way."

Murphy stands by the finale, FX's highest-rated original series episode to date, but admitted that the season as a whole was too dark and gothic, perhaps influenced by a gloomy period in his personal life. "Nip/Tuck" returns on Sept. 5 with a lighter tone, and the Carver, Murphy promised, is gone for good.

The drama over FX's dramas also has called into question the network's future. For a while, FX made it look easy, launching its three signature shows in succession, all of them becoming award-winning hits. "The Shield" will end in 2008, after two more seasons. "Nip/Tuck" and "Rescue Me" potentially could go on for several more years. But as the shows age, FX will need to replace them, a task that is proving to be formidable as more cable and broadcast networks have hopped on the gritty serialized drama bandwagon.

But the two dramas it launched since "Rescue Me" "Over There" and "Thief" were not popular with viewers and were canceled. "Starved," a comedy, and "Black.White," a reality-documentary series, were meant to enlighten the public debate about eating disorders and race relations, respectively, but only managed to turn people off. They also were canceled. Neither "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" nor "30 Days" was a breakout hit, but Landgraf renewed them both for second seasons.

"There's nothing that is setting off a major alarm that they're in a creative funk," said Laura Caraccioli-Davis, executive vice president of Starcom Entertainment, which serves as a liaison between marketers and Hollywood. I don't think anybody's saying their mojo isn't working anymore." But Landgraf has come to his own conclusion about the antihero genre, spawned by David Chase on "The Sopranos," that gave FX its brand. Now that those bad boys are everywhere on the dial (ABC's "Boston Legal" and Fox's "House," for example), FX will start exploring naughty girls and maybe dysfunctional families if it commits to the series "Low Life," starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver. "Is that subgenre of a genre the only thing that FX is ever going to do?" Landgraf said. "Are we a network for men? I don't think so."

In January, FX will launch its first series with a female lead, and, yes, she will be an antihero. Courteney Cox Arquette is the star of "Dirt," a drama set in the tabloid industry with Cox Arquette as a stop-at-nothing tabloid editor and Ian Hart as a schizophrenic photographer. Their unholy alliance is the center of it all.

"Through examining tabloid culture, we're looking at a larger cultural endgame or cultural apocalypse and FX is letting us explore that avenue," said creator Matthew Carnahan. "I honestly don't believe that anywhere else on TV would be letting us dig around and get as messy as this can get."

"I just think if the network is slavishly devoted to its past successes, that's a recipe for failure," Landgraf said. "If you look at all of our shows, none of these stories is ever really over. The echoes keep resonating. You just have to be willing to keep watching."

post #14649 of 25503
Thread Starter 
TV Notebook
ABC Names New Morning News Anchor
By Elizabeth Jensen The New York Times August 22, 2006

ABC News has named Chris Cuomo as the news anchor for Good Morning America, in preparation for a new round of battle with NBC's top-rated Today show.

Mr. Cuomo, 36, had been the network's senior legal correspondent, as well as an anchor on Primetime, ABC's newsmagazine. He is a son of the former three-term New York governor Mario Cuomo; his brother, Andrew, is currently a candidate for New York State attorney general.

Viewers may soon know much more about Chris Cuomo, who is married and has two children. He said the biggest adjustment he expected to make in the new job would be to reveal more of himself. You have to be willing to give yourself to the audience, he said in a telephone interview, adding, There's an expectation of intimacy. Most important, he said, the audience needs to understand that I really care what happens in their lives.

The news anchor job became available earlier this year as part of ABC's game of musical chairs. Charles Gibson, the Good Morning America co-anchor, became the anchor of World News, and Robin Roberts, who had been named a third co-anchor of the program in May 2005 while continuing to handle the news headlines, became just the co-host with Diane Sawyer. The changes gave the program two female hosts, an anomaly among morning programs, which traditionally have paired men and women.

Mr. Cuomo will be the main substitute anchor for Good Morning America. A new weather person is still to be named.

Jim Murphy, the program's newly named senior executive producer, said he chose Mr. Cuomo because I have great faith he's going to grow into a major player. Mr. Murphy said: He's really passionate about news. He is very aggressive in covering big stories.

Mr. Cuomo will begin his new job on Sept. 5. He will continue as a co-anchor of Primetime.

As Good Morning America, second in the ratings, tries to close the gap with Today, Mr. Cuomo will also continue to report the legal stories that have been his specialty, Mr. Murphy said. Mr. Cuomo is passionate about crime and justice reporting, Mr. Murphy said.

Mr. Cuomo said: People care about that what's going wrong in society, who's doing it and what the accountability is. Those types of stories are very important if you are trying to demonstrate to the audience that you care. I will do those stories and I will do them with a lot of gusto.

Mr. Murphy declined to discuss other changes he might have in store for the program. Today will be dealing with changes of its own, as Meredith Vieira steps into the co-anchor slot vacated by Katie Couric, the new anchor of the CBS Evening News.

post #14650 of 25503
Thread Starter 
TV Sports
As Gumbel Speaks Freely, N.F.L. Watches His Words
By Richard Sandomir The New York Times August 22, 2006

Paul Tagliabue is in his final days as commissioner of the N.F.L. He looks relaxed and ready to fade from public view.

It is unlikely, then, that one of his final acts will be to force the NFL Network to get rid of Bryant Gumbel, its play-by-play announcer, for remarks he made last week on HBO's Real Sports about Gene Upshaw, the head of the N.F.L. players union.

Maybe Tagliabue will fine him as if Gumbel's socks violated league rules.

Tagliabue rebuked Gumbel yesterday at a press gathering at the N.F.L. boardroom for comments that he called quite inexcusable and about as uninformed as anything I've read or heard in a long, long time.

Beyond that, the best Tagliabue can probably do is summon Gumbel for a private N.F.L. pep rally before he hands his office keys and building ID card to his successor, Roger Goodell, next week. Tagliabue understands free speech, even if in his view it is misinformed and ticks him off.

Gumbel is hyper-opinionated, rarely more so than in his commentary that closes each edition of Real Sports. He framed his essay last Tuesday as an open letter to Goodell, and he opened it with his take on what he believes is the one-sided world of Tagliabue-dominated labor relations.

First of all, Gumbel advised Goodell, before he cleans out his office, have Paul Tagliabue show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash. He said that by making Upshaw his personal pet, Tagliabue kept labor peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted.

Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch, Gumbel said.

Gumbel is right that the N.F.L. union, since before Upshaw took office, has failed to achieve guaranteed player contracts. But by calling Upshaw a lackey, Gumbel ignores economic gains made by players under Upshaw, who, in the view of some owners, got too much in the new labor agreement.

Tagliabue said that the positions taken by Gumbel, a former co-host of NBC's Today and CBS's Early Show, suggested that he had acquired buyer's remorse about working for the NFL Network. He said that Gumbel's Real Sports commentary last week calls into question his desire to do the job and do it in a way that we in the N.F.L. would expect it to be done.

(It may also signal Gumbel's desire to say things play-by-play announcers never say, which may be refreshing for fans but would be anathema to the league.)

Tagliabue said he would discuss the Gumbel matter sometime during his final days with Goodell and Steve Bornstein, the NFL Network's president.

Bornstein proudly hired Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth, another person of infinite opinions, but he declined a request yesterday to comment on Gumbel's statements. Seth Palansky, his spokesman, dismissed the thought that Gumbel had imperiled his status by expressing his Upshaw-as-canine view. We still expect him to call our games, Palansky said. There's no issue there. We want to let the commissioner's words speak for themselves.

Then came the true bottom line: marketing the NFL Network as the home of eight Thursday and Saturday games. This is why people should call their cable operator to demand the NFL Network, Palansky said.

Through HBO Sports, Gumbel said he had no reaction to Tagliabue's ire. Upshaw also declined an interview request.

A flap similar to this was bound to occur sometime in Gumbel's tenure. His mouth roars, and he was told upon being hired that no restrictions would be placed on him. Certainly, HBO does not tell him what to say.

In 1989, when he was at Today, he wrote an internal memo that flayed Willard Scott, the weatherman and celebrator of centenarians, for holding the show hostage to his assortment of whims, wishes, birthdays and bad taste. The memo, still relevant today, was leaked to the news media. Tagliabue's anti-Gumbel dudgeon is in character with a league that is astonishingly adept at controlling its image. Tagliabue apologized for the appearance of Janet Jackson's right breast at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, and he flagellated himself for not doing more to control such behavior, reacting as if he had given her a bra without adequate underwire support.

Tagliabue told ESPN that he didn't like the negative portrayal of professional football players on the dramatic series Playmakers, and ESPN eventually canceled it.

His reaction to Gumbel's remarks typified the potential sensitivity that is created when a league owns a network that carries games. No league wants to be savaged by announcers employed by outside networks. But being ripped by your own network's voices is touchier; Tagliabue's reaction presages future irritations once the network's games start Nov. 23.

To Tagliabue's credit, he approved the hiring of Gumbel and Collinsworth, and he could not have expected a pair of leashed beagles. Real Sports has given Gumbel a designated vehicle for commentary, and he may rile Goodell a couple of times before his Thanksgiving game debut. Last February, he wrote off the coming Winter Games in Turin, snarling about the lack of black athletes, the news media who pretend to care about luge and biathlon, and the pseudo-athlete who awaits scores in kiss-and-cry areas.

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TV Sports
Tagliabue May Face One Final Issue
Gumbel Could Be Ousted for Comments
By Mark Maske Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, August 22, 2006

NEW YORK, Aug. 21 -- Paul Tagliabue, perhaps the most powerful man in sports, said he intends simply "to disappear" after his retirement as NFL commissioner becomes official next week.

But Tagliabue, who will be replaced by Roger Goodell, isn't quite ready to walk away quietly. In an interview Monday with reporters in a boardroom at the NFL's offices, he fired back at veteran broadcaster Bryant Gumbel for critical remarks about the league and said it's possible that the league will replace Gumbel as an announcer on the NFL Network.

Gumbel sharply criticized the league, team owners and NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw on his HBO show last week.

"I think things that Bryant Gumbel said about Gene Upshaw and the owners are about as uninformed as anything I've read or heard in a long, long time and quite inexcusable because they are subjects about which you can and should be better informed," Tagliabue said. "Having looked at how other people have had buyer's remorse when they took positions, I guess they suggest to me that maybe he's having buyer's remorse and they call into question his desire to do the job and to do it in a way that we in the NFL would expect it to be done."

The league-owned NFL Network is scheduled to carry regular season games for the first time this season. The eight-game package of games on Thursday and Saturday nights begins on Thanksgiving. Gumbel was hired for play-by-play duties.

Tagliabue said that he, Goodell and NFL Network President Steve Bornstein will discuss Gumbel's status. The owners elected Goodell, the NFL's chief operating officer, as Tagliabue's successor on Aug. 8. Tagliabue said that his final day in office will be Aug. 31 and that Goodell officially will take over at 6 a.m. Sept. 1 because there are night preseason games Aug. 31.

The final decision about Gumbel "is up to Roger," said Tagliabue, who added: "I'll talk to Roger and Steve Bornstein about the talent at the NFL Network. At least until next Thursday, I'll have those conversations. After that, it will be Roger and Steve."

Pressed on whether he will recommend that Gumbel be dismissed, Tagliabue said, "I've said what I'm going to say on the subject."

An HBO spokesman said Gumbel had no comment.

On "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" last week, Gumbel addressed his closing remarks to Goodell and told the new commissioner to have Tagliabue, before he cleans out his office, "show you where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash. By making the docile head of the players' union his personal pet, your predecessor has kept the peace without giving players the kind of guarantees other pros take for granted. Try to make sure no one competent ever replaces Upshaw on your watch."

Upshaw said Monday he had no response to Gumbel's "irresponsible comments."

Upshaw has been criticized in the past by others, including former baseball union chief Marvin Miller, for his close relationship with Tagliabue. But their relationship has produced long-standing labor peace that has been a significant ingredient in the NFL's prosperity, and several owners said that when they ratified the latest extension of the sport's collective bargaining agreement in March, they felt Upshaw had outmaneuvered them and gotten them to guarantee the players too much money under the salary cap system.

Gumbel also told Goodell on HBO to remind owners "that they are already making obscene amounts of money," and said that Tagliabue was "legislating individuality out of the NFL."

Tagliabue praised Goodell as a highly qualified replacement, and said he will make sure to step aside and allow Goodell to lead. Under the terms of his contract, Tagliabue is to remain a senior consultant to the league after his retirement. But he plans to travel in India and China this fall and perhaps live in China temporarily, and he said he will offer his input only to Goodell and only when Goodell asks.

"I think generally the best way to run an organization is for the person who's running it to be in charge and for the people who have had responsibility for running it previously to disappear for the most part," Tagliabue said. "I think it just provides clarity as to where the responsibilities are, both externally and internally. It eliminates any potential for anybody to try to solicit second opinions. This is not like practicing medicine. You don't look for second opinions."

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The 2006-2007 Season
Web buzz-wise, the hot shows this fall
By Diego Vasquez MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer Aug 22, 2006

Most media people agree that NBC's new fall shows look the most promising among the five English-language networks, and apparently web users agree with them.

According to a new report released by PropheSEE, the online buzz monitoring arm of Interpublic's Consumer Experience Practice, four new NBC shows rank among the top five in amount of buzz generated online about the new season. In fact, NBC generated a dominant 57 percent of online buzz, compared with second-place ABC at 18 percent.

NBC's Heroes, the drama about people who think they have special powers, ranked No. 1 at 26 percent of all buzz, followed by the network's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip with 20.4 percent. Fox's Vanished was No. 3, followed by NBC's 30 Rock and Friday Night Lights.

But the question is whether that actually means anything good for NBC. After all, several online buzz trackers last year rated The Apprentice: Martha Stewart the new season's most-buzzed-about new show, and it turned out to be a huge bomb. And the recent lukewarm box office take for internet sensation Snakes on a Plane have many people wondering just how much web buzz really matters.

Stacey Lynn Koerner, president of The Consumer Experience Practice, talks with Media Life about web buzz, why Heroes is getting so much of it, and which five shows have hit potential.

How important is web buzz for a new program? Does it guarantee that people will actually watch the show, or are they just interested in talking about it?

There are no guarantees. The internet is simply a new channel for word-of-mouth, an area that marketers and programmers have been tapping for decades. The difference today is that word-of-mouth used to be more about personal networks of influence within local communities.
Today, the internet has turned individuals into channels themselves, and their reach is extensive. How viewers feel about programs is no longer shared to the extent of friends and family, it can be millions of individuals. So, buzz can be important, especially if the sentiment is shared among a wide audience or reported on by other media.

That said, not everyone participates on the internet and not every show is going to reach its core audience there. Television reaches a variety of viewers - some highly engaged, some loyal but dispassionate, others who are just passing through.

People who talk about programs on the internet are likely highly engaged TV fans who will sample new shows and share their opinions with many others. You could use the same analogy for gardening or home improvement or book clubs. People who are interested in discussing these topics online are likely also practitioners at some level in their lives.

The internet is simply one way of extending your experience with an activity or interest one is passionate about, but I'm sure there are lots of gardeners out there who don't consult the internet too.

Why is Heroes generating so much buzz? Is it simply because it's the sort of sci-fi-type program that tends to stir web types into a frenzy?

Not at all.

Heroes exemplifies a new cultural interest in superheroes and, in particular, what we call a becoming theme. Think Buffy who learns she's a vampire slayer, Clark Kent who learns he's Superman (Smallville).

At a time in our society when danger is lurking everywhere, villains are disguised as everyday people and heroes are few and far between, this kind of movement is not surprising.

This show is also the product of one of the major writers from Lost (Tim Kring) who, like J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon before him, has developed a fan base of his own. For TV enthusiasts, in particular, auspices are often more important than the plot or the talent associated with the show.

Why has the buzz on Studio 60 declined?

This is really a function of the over-hyped media attention regarding the inside Hollywood battle to produce the show as well as the debate around its placement on the schedule. Once NBC moved the show out of Thursday night and away from stiff competition (Grey's Anatomy), much of the conversation settled.

Why the big jump in messages about Vanished?

Keep in mind that these are fan messages from May and June. Most of May really comprised the last two weeks from the time the networks announced their schedules. This is also a show that benefits from cast members who had large fan followings in other shows that have been cancelled.

Absent a show to follow, fans will adjust their energies and follow the talent. This phenomena works against the networks at times as well. Disenfranchised fans of canceled shows can sometimes launch negative campaigns against new replacement series.

Are there any shows whose negative buzz outweighs the positive? Why?

Most shows' largest sentiment scores come from neutral messages, not negative or positive. There are a few shows that have more negative than positive sentiment from time to time, but at this stage of analysis it's mostly neutral as fans exchange information about the programs, cast members, background, etc.

The study finds that not a lot of people are talking about legal dramas, which used to be a hot genre on TV. Has it burned itself out, or is this simply a reflection of webbies' differences with more mainstream TV viewers?

In general we've begun to see declining interest in procedural dramas, whether they are investigative or legal.

This really has more to do with the genre than a difference between internet and mass audiences. Viewers have many options in this genre already, so new entries have to work hard to showcase their point of difference.

There's been some talk lately about how the web has changed anticipation of new seasons. Are people more aware now of what new shows are going to be on because they're exposed to them on the web? Does this help come fall?

Viewer interest in television has not changed significantly over time. The marketing efforts we see from major programmers are merely an answer to competing in a bigger marketplace of ideas.

Those who are interested in new TV shows will seek information through entertainment magazines, TV newsmagazines [like] ET and Access Hollywood, viewer blogs, etc.
The more information you know, the more credible you are in online fan cultures. The web simply enriches the passion for these folks.

The challenge for entertainment marketers is really for those who are on the fringe, where television is a part of life, but not necessarily a passion. Life is faster with more options--and every marketer, not just entertainment marketers--is challenged in getting its messages across.

The question isn't really whether people are more aware as much as whether they're better informed. Today viewers have opportunities to see previews and full-length pilots before the shows even premiere. This gives us a much better sense of what may or may not work with viewers once the season is underway.

Based on this study and past fall TV trends, which shows do you expect to be hits come fall?

PropheSEE is about which shows are likely to generate engaged fans, not mass audiences. A hit is subjective depending on the parties involved, i.e., a 4 household share on ABC is not a healthy sign, but is acceptable on CW.

That said, there are several shows that have caught our attention enough to want to watch carefully through the fourth quarter. Here's one from each network: Heroes (NBC), Vanished (Fox), Jericho (CBS), Ugly Betty (ABC) and Runaway (CW).

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Monday's network prime-time ratings are now at the top of RATINGS NEWS (the first post in this thread).
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Overnights in the 18-49 Demo
Ho-hum premiere for Fox's 'Vanished'
By Toni Fitzgerald MediaLifeMagazine.com staff writer Aug 22, 2006

Last summer Fox rolled out its big-buzz new series Prison Break weeks ahead of the other broadcast networks' offerings, and to good effect: It averaged an impressive 4.6 adults 18-49 rating in its debut.

Last night the network attempted the same strategy with one this fall's biggest-buzz new shows, the kidnapping drama Vanished. The result was disappointing.

Against mostly repeats, Vanished averaged a 3.0 adults 18-49 overnight rating, ranking No. 1 in its timeslot but losing 19 percent of the audience of lead-in Break, which averaged a decent 3.7 in its second-season debut.

Perhaps more troubling for Fox, Vanished slipped 6 percent from its first half hour to its second, from a 3.1 to a 2.9, and was just 0.2 ahead of a rerun of Wife Swap on ABC in its 9 p.m. timeslot.

Though the show got strong web buzz, ranking as the No. 3 most-talked-about new show on online forums, messageboards and blogs, according to Interpublic's recent PropheSEE report, critics did not find the show as interesting. It got mostly poor reviews.

It's pretty mediocre television, having the feel of a cut and paste job, without one thing that ties a successful series together as a unique creative experience, wrote Andrew Lyons, in a Media Life review.

Vanished may also have suffered from the very strategy that helped last year, the early debut. Viewers don't expect the TV season to kick off so early. Plus, it aired opposite the surprisingly solid season and presumably series finale of NBC's Treasure Hunters, which averaged a 2.5, its best rating in eight weeks and up 39 percent over its penultimate episode last week.

The slate of new shows led Fox to No. 1 for the night among 18-49s with a 3.3 rating and 10 share, trailed by CBS at 2.7/8, ABC at 2.3/7, NBC and Univision both at 1.8/5, and WB and UPN each at 0.7/2.

At 8 p.m., Fox was No. 1 at 3.7 for "Prison," ahead of ABC's "Swap" rerun at 2.3, CBS's repeats of "Two and a Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother" at 2.2, Univision's "La Fea Mas Bella" at 1.8, NBC's "Hunters" at 1.6, WB's "7th Heaven" repeat at 0.7 and UPN's repeats of "One on One" and "All of Us" at 0.6.

At 9 p.m., Fox led again at 3.0 for "Vanished," followed by ABC's "Swap" rerun at 2.8, CBS's "Men" and "New Adventures of Old Christine" repeats at 2.7, NBC's "Hunters" at 2.5, Univision's "Barrera de Amor" at 1.5, and UPN's reruns of "Girlfriends" and "Half & Half" and WB's "Heaven" repeat each at 0.7.

At 10 p.m., CBS led at 3.3 for a "CSI: Miami" repeat, ahead of ABC at 1.9 for a "Supernanny" rerun, NBC at 1.5 for a "Medium" repeat, and Univision at 2.0 for "Cristina."

Among households, CBS was No. 1 for the evening with a 6.1 rating and 10 share, edging Fox at 5.7/9. ABC was No. 3 at 4.1/7, followed by NBC at 3.2/5, Univision at 2.1/3, WB at 1.2/2 and UPN at 1.1/2.

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Ask Matt
(from the Ask (TV Critic) Matt (Roush) column at TVGuide.com
By Matt Roush TVGuide.com TV Critic

Question: OK, I know a lot of people (myself included) write you asking if a show in danger of being canceled will get a reprieve from another network, and you usually say no. But I do recall that when The O.C. succeeded in its first season, everyone said it was the hit that WB had been looking for. Well, now that Fox is giving up on it, wouldn't the show be good for CW? Or is it just too expensive and/or too old? If it's being overhauled, it would be a perfect time to get a new start on a mishmash, teen-oriented network like CW. DJ

Matt Roush: It'll never happen, but your question isn't nearly as random as you might think. For one thing, The O.C. is produced by the Warner Bros. studio, so there's that sort of corporate synergy to think about (the "W" in CW stands for Warner Brothers, as did WB). And you're also right that this kind of show fits the CW brand to a tee (or should I say wife-beater T-shirt). But the last thing CW needs is yet another past-its-prime show on its schedule, which is already cobbled together from too many WB and UPN shows on their last legs. Besides, it probably is too expensive and seemingly too old (though that didn't hurt 7th Heaven from being resurrected for CW's launch). Keep reading for a question more representative of the sort of O.C. mail I've been getting lately.


Question: You recently mentioned that this season is likely The O.C.'s "last hurrah." Why do you think that is? When the show premiered, everyone was comparing it to Beverly Hills, 90210, a comparison I still think is valid. That show ran for 10 years and almost 300 episodes. If The O.C. ends this year it will be after only four years and likely not even 100 episodes. So why did it peter out so quickly? Do you think it was because of bad scheduling, or did poor story-line choices drive viewers away? Even if the show isn't the phenomenon it was when it started (and how could it be, given how overhyped and overexposed that first season was?), I still think it's successful enough that Fox's decision to cast it aside so quickly is surprising. Mike

Matt Roush: I'm struggling with how to answer this one. A cynic would just say, "The show sucks now," and be done with it, but that's neither fair nor relevant; 90210's long run can hardly be attributed to its quality. It may be the fact that Fox and the culture are in different places now than when 90210 was in its heyday. Fox was a much younger network then, and WB didn't even exist, so there was less saturation of this kind of show and lower expectations for its ratings. (Crossover mass-appeal hits like 24 and House were not even thought possible.) There was no reality TV of note back then, either, and I'm wondering if faux reality soaps like Laguna Beach and its offspring have taken the luster off this fictional version. Despite the freshness of much of O.C.'s writing (especially for Seth, Summer and Sandy), there's an inescapable sense that we've been down this glossy road too many times before, and maybe this kind of teen soap is going, for now, the way of the old-fashioned sitcom at least where the major networks are concerned. Simply put, Fox has grown up, which may not leave much room for a show like The O.C.


Question: I've seen a bunch of news items recently about Ugly Betty, and I was wondering what your opinion of it was. To me, the premise just seems awful. Like in The Devil Wears Prada, we've got an attractive woman who we're supposed to pretend is "ugly," and then we've got the cutting-edge topic of the fashion industry. Wow, it's not like anyone's made fun of them before. What's next, a sock-hop-and-ice-cream-social comedy? I like America Ferrera, but previous shows along this theme, such as Veronica's Closet and Less than Perfect, have just been shrill and annoying. Jeff

Matt Roush: The worst sin in writing about or analyzing TV seriously is to judge a show simply by its premise. While it's entirely likely that you are predisposed not to enjoy Ugly Betty, it's always all about the execution. Ugly Betty is not a traditional sitcom, it's a hybrid of comedy and soap, and Betty herself is nothing like the heroine of Prada (Betty is much more extreme), except perhaps for her inexperience in this particular viper's den. Betty's close-knit Latino family life is also an essential part of the show. But even if it's true that the setting and the basic setup may be no more original than the latest spin on Cinderella or Jane Austen, it's all about what you do with the material, who you cast in it and whether magic happens. In the case of Ugly Betty, I think it does.


Question: I write this fully aware that you have not seen the retooled 30 Rock pilot, but what are your thoughts on the network's drastic overhaul of Rachel Dratch's character (now characters)? I've heard nothing but glowing advance notices, and until recently there was no show I anticipated more. The fact that the network heads are retooling it already suggests that they might just trash it before it even airs. God knows, NBC has heard the phrase "tried and true" (just look at most of their programming), but haven't they heard the infinitely more useful "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"? Ryan

Matt Roush: Having seen the original pilot, and being a big fan of Rachel Dratch (her first "Debbie Downer" skit may be the highlight of the last five years or so of Saturday Night Live), I can assure you that, aside from one very funny scene involving Alec Baldwin, an NBC page and a bottle of diarrhea medicine, there wasn't much for her to do. I actually like the idea that she'll be popping up in various characters (all of them, I'm assuming, extreme in nature) in what amounts to a running gag. I'd love for 30 Rock to use other past and present SNL talent in the same capacity (I'm convinced Maya Rudolph can do just about anything). As I noted in last Monday's column in a question about the much more troubled Brothers & Sisters, isn't it better to do the retooling now than once the show gets up and running, by which time it might be too late? First seasons are by their nature works in progress. A little patience and an open mind, please.


Question: In your recent comments about the Parents Television Council, you made reference to people who wish that all TV looked like Nick at Nite. I understood your point. But it is interesting to note that Nick at Nite does show episodes of All in the Family and Good Times, two series that caused an uproar with groups like the PTC in the '70s, and has in the past run episodes of Maude, another controversial show. In fact, I was watching All in the Family the other night and thought that there was no way a show like that could make it to network TV today. As far as the PTC goes, it's pretty simple: If you don't like it, don't watch it. There is plenty of technology available to parents for blocking channels. For that matter, there is no law saying that one must own a TV. If it offends thee, pluck it out, as someone once said. Don't subject the rest of us to a worldview that sees Petticoat Junction as the zenith of American television. Alan

Matt Roush: Not that there's anything wrong with Hooterville. Just (in the view of the puritanical PTC) hooters, I suppose. You make an excellent point. Norman Lear (a great foe of the PTC) has often said it would be impossible to put Archie Bunker in prime time these days, with all the politically correct watchdogs (including the insipid FCC), milquetoast executives and squeamish advertisers conspiring to make network TV as irrelevant as possible. Dramas, airing later at night, seem to have a bit more leeway. But the chilling effect of the current "fine first, think later" climate has been especially devastating where cutting-edge comedy is concerned.


Question: I spent this past weekend watching the first half of Battlestar Galactica's first season, so I can have the entire run of the series under my belt by the time Season 3 premieres in October. It should be no surprise to you (or to anyone with a modicum of taste) that I'm completely captivated. BSG addresses so many topics, including the very nature of humanity, on levels deeper than any show I can think of, including Lost. I'm sure you've addressed this before, but why is the TV Academy so reluctant to nominate it for anything except technical awards? The story line is no more complicated than the continuing story lines on Lost or Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy. Are the oldsters really that terrified of spaceships? Lisa B.

Matt Roush: Not so much terrified as contemptuous. I've met TV-industry veterans who, even when told this was one of the best shows of the year, refuse to look at it. They simply can't get past the title and its embarrassingly cheesy predecessor. You'd think people on the creative side of things might have heard of the allegorical power that the best fantasy and science-fiction writing can convey. But they hear Battlestar Galactica, and they think "hokum" or worse, "recent George Lucas." We'll just have to keep doing our best to educate these fools.


Question: Why are you always criticizing CSI: Miami? Granted, it isn't as good as the original (which actually had a down year last year). And Caruso's acting is something you have to learn to tolerate. (I wonder if the script actually says, "Put hands on hips.") But on the whole, the show is quite entertaining. One of its strong suits is the backup players. I love Callie and Delko. If you want to bash a CSI show, try the horrid NY version. I can't even stand to watch it, and I'm a huge Gary Sinise fan; that tells you how bad it is. The exaggerated New York accents and the stilted acting are unbearable. I predict it will be the first incarnation of CSI to get canceled. Laura

Matt Roush: Tell that to the original Law & Order, which had to move to Fridays to get away from the CSI juggernaut, even the subpar NY edition. The reason I criticize the Miami version from time to time is because it's such a big target. And while I also like some of the supporting players, I have grown weary of the ludicrous way the show presents Caruso as Super Horatio. And when they killed his wife about 10 minutes into their marriage last season... beyond predictable. They've been pulling that trick on TV since the days of Little Joe on the Ponderosa (and that's when I stopped watching Bonanza). The fact that so many still watch the show so slavishly, to the point where it's a potential show killer for any ambitious series (like, perhaps, this season's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) that dares to go up against it, is why I use my critical voice for an occasional reality check. CSI: Miami isn't a terrible show, like Criminal Minds for instance (and now I get to hear from those fans), but given the way it has developed in the last season or so, it doesn't deserve such crazy popularity, and certainly not any accolades.


Question: Which are the top five new shows you would recommend this fall? From the previews I have read, I am most looking forward to The Nine, Heroes, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Jericho and Ugly Betty. Six Degrees sounded intriguing to me when I read the premise, but critics have bashed it, so I'm uncertain. Although it does have J.J. Abrams involved, so I'm hoping. Sheldon

Matt Roush: I'll give you a top six: my three favorite new dramas and my three favorite new comedies (the latter is almost by default because there are so few of merit). Dramas, in no particular order: The Nine, Studio 60, Friday Night Lights. Comedies, in no particular order: 30 Rock, The Class, Ugly Betty. There are a handful of shows I'll be tracking that fall on a second tier, but I can tell you that Heroes and Jericho will not likely be among them. (I know that because I write this particular column on the Internet, I'm supposed to gush on and on about any show with an element of fantasy call it the Comic-Con factor but from what I've seen of Heroes, it strikes me as pretentious and fatally unfocused, while Jericho is such a preachy downer of a show, I can't imagine the audience for that one. It certainly isn't me.) As for Six Degrees: I was seriously underwhelmed by the pilot, and will be curious if J.J. has some tricks up his sleeve to bring these ponderous characters to life. The whole thing seemed awfully New York-is-the-center-of-the-universe for my taste. I live there, and even I was put off by it.


Question: I was just wondering if anyone happens to know if there's something wrong with Anthony Clark. He just doesn't seem to be himself on Last Comic Standing. His hands and voice are shaky. Erin

Matt Roush: You're not the only one who wrote in with this observation as the show ended its run. I haven't a clue if he wasn't feeling well this summer or something, but it seemed clear to me that he was peculiarly and particularly ill at ease in the role of host. He was painful to watch. But then, he made my skin crawl on Yes, Dear as well, so maybe I'm just not a fan.


Question: This season of Deadwood has been incredible. I'm not even sure if that adjective can do it justice. Do you foresee an Emmy or Golden Globe nomination for Gerald McRaney's performance as George Hearst? Is there any chance that critical praise, awards or ratings could bring Deadwood back for a fourth season? Ryan

Matt Roush: Really, can you ever trust the Emmys to do the right thing? Maybe for HBO shows, yes. McRaney has been such a dominant (and demonic) figure on the series this season that I would think the chances are excellent he'll be recognized, if not too much time has passed between this summer and next year's nomination process. As for the show's future, David Milch is getting two movie-length specials with which to wrap up the story, so leaving us wanting more is not always such a bad thing. And a tighter focus to the storytelling in its final chapters may not be the worst thing that ever happened to Deadwood.

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Last week's updated top 10 prime-time program ratings are now toward the bottom of RATINGS NEWS -- the first post in this thread.
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Cable Nielsens
Top 10 Cable Programs
Week of August 14-20

Rank Program Network Day Viewers (in millions)
2       CLOSER, THE     TNT     MONDAY  6.57
3       NEXTEL CUP/MICHIGAN     TNT     SUNDAY  6.41
6       MONK    USA     FRIDAY  5.21
8       PSYCH   USA     FRIDAY  4.89
10      FREAKY FRIDAY (2003)    DSNY    FRIDAY  4.26
Source: Nielsen Media Research data
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Cable Nielsens
USA Network Continues Strong August Ratings Run
By Anthony Crupi MediaWeek.com August 22, 2006

USA Network continued its ratings tear last week, delivering an average 2.85 million total viewers and a 2.3 household rating for the week ending August 20.

As in weeks past, USA enjoyed a strong showing with its power trio--WWE Raw, Monk and Psych--which accounted for four of the week's top 10 most-watched programs. The network also delivered the most adults 18-49 (1.27 million) and 18-34 (0.5 million) during the period.

The nominal second place winner was non-ad-supported Disney Channel, which averaged 2.58 million total viewers and a 2.2 household rating on the strength of its original series and a Friday night screening of the 2003 Lindsay Lohan movie Freaky Friday, which rounded out the top 10 with 4.26 million viewers between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Among ad-supported nets, TNT took second place in prime last week, averaging 2.35 million total viewers and a 2.0 household rating, thanks in large part to its Sunday afternoon Nextel Cup coverage (6.41 million viewers) and its hit Monday night series, The Closer (6.57 million viewers). As was the case the previous week, The Closer was the second most-watched program on basic cable, trailing the Lifetime original movie The Fantasia Barrino Story, which drew 6.65 million viewers in its Saturday night debut and another 5.04 million in its encore the following night.

The biopic of the American Idol version 3.0 winner also pushed Lifetime to its second consecutive third-place finish, as an average 2.27 million total viewers and tuned in to the womens' network last week, while the cable debut of Monday Night Football pushed ESPN back into the top five (2.1 million/1.8 HH rating). Some 5.38 million viewers and 2.7 million adults 18-49 locked in to watch the Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings scrimmage on Aug. 14, and while that audiencee was the sports net's biggest for an NFL preseason matchup in three years, it paled in comparison to what ABC lured with its MNF opener last year, an early-August showdown between the Chicago Bears and the Miami Dolphins that delivered 9.1 million viewers and 4.5 million adults 18-49.

Cartoon Network closed out the top five with 1.57 million viewers and a 1.4 household rating in a week which saw the kids' net up its delivery of the 6-11 demo by 18 percent versus the same week last year with 731,000 in the category tuning in. Disney continued its remarkable winning streak among its core demos, topping all comers in kids 6-11 (1.16 million/5.9 rating), the 2-11 demo (1.51 million/4.7) and 'tweens 9-14 (0.99 million/4.9 rating).

post #14659 of 25503
The 4400 and The Dead Zone didn't even crack the top 10 cable ratings with new episodes? Wow.

Why did USA give the go ahead for a 4th season of The 4400?

The Dead Zone looks like it will be canceled -- budget cuts due to rising salaries (mainly for anthony michael hall i'd imagine) have killed the quality of the show.
post #14660 of 25503
Originally Posted by Rakesh.S View Post

The 4400 and The Dead Zone didn't even crack the top 10 cable ratings with new episodes? Wow.

Why did USA give the go ahead for a 4th season of The 4400?

As a fan of The 4400, I felt this has been its strongest season but never seem to see or hear anything about the show; it seems "buzz-less". I'm curious as to how it's been doing ratings-wise and had heard nothing about USA picking up a fourth season. It almost looks like they're trying to wrap things up this year. Are you sure about that?
post #14661 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Rakesh.S View Post

The 4400 and The Dead Zone didn't even crack the top 10 cable ratings with new episodes? Wow.

Why did USA give the go ahead for a 4th season of The 4400?

The Dead Zone looks like it will be canceled -- budget cuts due to rising salaries (mainly for anthony michael hall i'd imagine) have killed the quality of the show.

I just checked again and neither show even made the top 40 last week.
post #14662 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Last week's complete network average prime-time results (with demographic averages) are now at the bottom of RATINGS NEWS the first post in this thread.
post #14663 of 25503
Thread Starter 
TV Notebook
All Eyes on SNL Again
By Don Kaplan The New York Post August 22, 2006

What's going on be hind the scenes at "Saturday Night Live" this month may be more dramatic than any thing you'll see on the two prime-time shows starting this fall based on the famed late-night comedy.

Four cast members are about to be fired - they know who they are, but the public doesn't.

Two others - including the undisputed star of "SNL," Tina Fey - are gone.

Auditions are about to begin for the signature spot on the show, anchor of the snarky "Weekend Update."

And because there will be two new shows that use "SNL" as their back drop - Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and Fey's "30 Rock" - the late-night comedy show will be attracting more attention than it has in years.

Lorne Michaels, the show's boss and guiding personality for nearly 30 years - and the producer of "30 Rock" - has less than six weeks to get it all done.

Crunch time.

"The history of 'SNL' has been that people step up," Michaels told the Post yesterday. "It's just been that way, at least so far. I think there are people there now who are going to be brilliant."

The man who has shared the headwriter's job with Fey for years, Seth Myers, is expected to become the show's sole head writer.

And Fey's second bannana on "Weekend Update," Amy Poehler, is also expected to be back, even as Rachel Dratch leaves to work on "30 Rock" full time.

"It's always hard when you're giving up good people," he says. The show has motored over rough road - most memorably in 1980 and 1995, when the show underwent wholesale cast changes and which, by no coincidence, were the two worst-received seasons ever.

"After about four years . . . there's a staleness that comes over the show," Michaels says.

This will be one of the few seasons that he doesn't bring in at least one new cast member. Knowing that budget cuts were looming for this fall, Michaels last year hired an exceptionally large cast - so that when the ax fell, he would already have a fresh, experienced cast ready to go.

"I think everything that was strong last season is back," he says. Among those are "SNL" vet Darrell Hammond and white-hot newbie Andy Samburg.

"For me, the most important thing is keeping the show on the air," he says.

post #14664 of 25503
Thread Starter 
The Business of TV
EchoStar Fails To Get Stay On Rebroadcast Bar
By Mark H. Anderson and Ellen Sheng Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)EchoStar Communications Corp. (DISH) Tuesday failed to get an emergency stay from the U.S. Supreme Court to freeze a federal appeals court order barring it from rebroadcasting copyrighted television network shows.

The emergency appeal was rejected by Justice Clarence Thomas, who handled the petition on a case out of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. EchoStar had filed the emergency appeal to lift an 11th Circuit injunction barring it from providing broadcast TV programming to its subscribers.

The company wanted to avoid having the injunction take effect until after the Supreme Court decides whether to hear a separate appeal on the underlying legal issues.

"The judgment of the Eleventh Circuit will have dramatic consequences if not stayed," attorneys for EchoStar said in the court filing. "It will immediately affect the television network programming received by hundreds of thousands of individuals."

Justice Thomas's decision effectively kills off EchoStar's last hope of delaying a U.S. District Court ruling ordering the satellite TV company to shut off its distant signal service. EchoStar hasn't specified exactly how many customers get local TV channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox from markets outside of their own, but said that it was less than a million.

Note: Wall Street Journal online subs can read the full story here:

post #14665 of 25503
Thread Starter 
What the above decision means, simply, is that Dish now will have to reach an agreement to pay for carriage of the stations. Or it will have to stop rebroadcasting them in the next couple of weeks.

Wall Street analysts have speculated the settlement figure will probably come to something more than $200 million.
post #14666 of 25503
Thread Starter 
Cable TV Notebook
USA: Four for 4400
Multichannel News 8/22/2006

USA Network ordered 13 one-hour episodes of The 4400, which will return to the NBC Universal Cable-owned service for a fourth season next summer.

Production on the Emmy Award-nominated series is scheduled to begin in Vancouver in early 2007.

The 4400 premiered on USA as a limited series in July 2004.

post #14667 of 25503
Thread Starter 
The Business of TV
EchoStar Rejected by High Court Justice, Must Halt Some Service

By Greg Stohr Bloomberg August 22

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas refused to block a ruling requiring EchoStar Communications Corp. to halt delivery of distant network television signals to hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the halt in May, saying EchoStar had engaged in a pattern of offering those signals to customers who aren't eligible under federal law. Today's rejection is a victory for News Corp.'s Fox Network and stations affiliated with the four major networks.

EchoStar, the nation's second-largest satellite service, said in court papers filed in Washington that it faces ``irreparable harm'' to its business. It asked Thomas, who handles emergency requests from the 11th Circuit, to block the lower court decision from taking effect while the justices consider whether to hear the company's appeal.

``Large numbers of subscribers who will be deprived of access to network broadcasting programming are likely to cancel their remaining EchoStar satellite services,'' EchoStar argued. Those customers ``are unlikely to resubscribe even in the event the 11th Circuit's decision is reversed by the Supreme Court.''

EchoStar said in an Aug. 9 regulatory filing that service shutoffs ``could have a material impact'' on the Englewood, Colorado, company's third-quarter results. The company says it will try to shift customers to local network signals, where that's possible.

Home Viewer Law

The U.S. Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act lets satellite companies provide network signals from far-away markets to subscribers who can't get high-quality local reception through an antenna. Both EchoStar and its larger rival, DirecTV Group Inc., have faced broadcaster claims that they regularly provide that service to ineligible customers in violation of station copyrights.

The 11th Circuit said that EchoStar had engaged in ``a pattern and practice of violating the act in every way imaginable'' and probably provides illegal service to more than 20 percent of its subscribers. The panel said that when a satellite company reaches that threshold, a judge must issue an order barring any transmission of distant network signals.

The 11th Circuit ruling overturned a federal trial judge who had issued a narrower order requiring EchoStar to revamp its system for determining subscriber eligibility for distant network signals.

EchoStar previously reached settlements with stations owned by ABC, NBC and CBS. Fox, whose parent company owns a stake in DirecTV, pressed ahead with the case, along with the independent station groups.

EchoStar had 12.46 million customers at the end of the quarter ending June 30. DirecTV reported 15.51 million customers.

The case is EchoStar v. CBS Broadcasting, 06A198.

post #14668 of 25503
Originally Posted by fredfa View Post

[USA Network ordered 13 one-hour episodes of The 4400, which will return to the NBC Universal Cable-owned service for a fourth season next summer.

Yea! Thanks Fred. Guess the ratings must have been A-okay with USA.
post #14669 of 25503
Thread Starter 
The minute I saw the story I thought of you, archiguy!
post #14670 of 25503
It usually does well in the key A18-49 and A25-54 demos, no? It's a good show, I've especially liked the last few weeks.

Thanks for the Dr. Who data. I don't know why I didn't think it was a consecutive run.
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